One of the top attractions in Busan is enjoying raw fish (회) in the giant Jagalchi Fish Market building, where guests dine upstairs with great views of the harbor. However, it’s the strip outside the main hall, parallel to the sea, where one can find some fine food at less touristy places. With a little help from my friends, here are three restaurants for a more old-school take on Jagalchi.
엄마집 (Mom’s House)
Across from the Jagalchi Fish Market building, between gates 3 and 4, is Mom’s House, offering a delicious medium-sized set of various grilled shellfish (조개구이) for 40,000 won. Mom’s House serves eight aesthetically beautiful and texturally meaty large clams (대합) cooked over the grill in butter, onion and garlic; six succulent sea scallops (가리비); and two abalone (전복), so fresh they were crawling out of their homes before meeting the kitchen shears and fire. In addition, I was lucky enough to sample one that had the internal organ (내장) intact. This special little lima bean-shaped green bag, redolent of a mix of seafood and liver pate, was a real treat. I’m glad I accepted Son Mal Seon’s invitation into her house. 051-246-2673
매일산회 신동아시장 (Everyday Raw Fish Shop, Marine Products Market)
Diagonal from the Jagalchi Fish Market building is the even more colorful Marine Products Market building. It may be lacking in sea view, but sitting at picnic tables adjacent to the fish tanks and the cutting board where your meal is being prepared is as close to farm-to-table as you can get. This more modest market brings a mix of older and younger generations attracted to the casual atmosphere. If wondering which stall to choose, meet Joo Sung Soon right in the middle at #125 Everyday Raw Fish Shop. Joo, a gregarious English-speaking host, selected the freshest, large flatfish (가자미), five sea urchin (성게), and two small octopi (산낙지) for five people, for 50,000 won. The flounder here was tender and meaty, with a mild and buttery flavor. The sea urchin, known as the ‘foie gras of the sea,’ was less intense in taste but more refined. Adding a salty crunch to the experience were the black eyeballs of the octopi rolling in their squirmy heads. 010-6427-7829
남포횟집 (Nampo Raw Fish House)
If you like your food less twitchy, hang a right at the Marine Products Market corner, through the scores of street hawkers and a dozen other restaurants offering barbecue fish, for this shop that serves the best cheap eats around Jagalchi. For 10,000 won per person, three of us were filled to the gills with a platter of flatfish (가자미), cutlass fish (갈치), cod (대구목살), mackerel (고등어), and small red fish (빨간고기). The staff call it “barbecue” but really all are prepared lightly dredged in flour, then pan fried. Whatever you call it, these fish of various tastes were all well-seasoned, crispy-skinned on the outside and moist on the inside. This fish house is a great budget-friendly place to sample the local catch. 051-256-2558
Directions: Walk two blocks straight out of Jagalchi subway station, exit 10. At the GS25 convenience store turn right on Jagalchi-ro 47 beon-gil; go straight three blocks towards the Jagalchi Market Building. Make a short left to arrive at Mom’s House. Immediately to the right is the Marine Products Market building. Further to the right you’ll reach Nampo Raw Fish House. Salud!
Photos by George Boyle (see more here)